When many people think of activities at a senior living community, a calendar full of weekly bingo and cards nights likely comes to mind. Edgewood Senior Living's Corporate Life Enrichment Director Ashley Magner explained that while these are popular in some communities, there's a lot more to programming. Read on to learn why Edgewood offers a diverse range of activities and life enrichment is so important to residents.
What is life enrichment?
Ashley noted that her goal is never just to fill a calendar. While a month with daily activities is great, that doesn't always mean someone put a ton of thought and effort behind each gathering or fully understands how the residents will benefit from each activity. Instead, Edgewood communities strive to be an industry leader, by creating individual plans that account for resident preferences and culture. The events, gatherings and outings included in life enrichment programs aren't just to give seniors something to do. Attending a painting class, for instance, provides a chance for residents to be creative, use their memories and work on fine motor skills.
When a family considers transitioning their loved one to senior living, one of the biggest concerns is that the senior's life will change immensely. While they will have access to the care they may not receive at home, that doesn't mean seniors will stop doing the things they love. Edgewood takes strides to integrate the local community and culture into their residences, promoting activities that seniors would normally do outside of assisted living, independent living and memory care. The Virginia, Minnesota, location may love cribbage, for example, while the Fargo, North Dakota, Edgewood Vista residents prefer rummy royal.
'Little big community' resources
Each location has a life enrichment team that plans and creates its own activities calendar. Every staffer who is involved has access to resources, training and education to fully understand resident needs and then plan gatherings, outings and events that promote personal success.
"We look at the conditions but alter our approach, not the activity."
Memory care and life enrichment
Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's Disease can partake in just about any Edgewood activity with a little help. Some communities schedule memory care-specific events, but many integrate activities while providing memory care residents with extra assistance.
"We look at the conditions but alter our approach, not the activity," Ashley noted, adding that assisted living residents may require less oversight than memory care residents. This means the staff initiates a gathering but the residents organize or carry it out. Memory care requires more hands-on guidance.
Ashley noted that in her past positions working with families who were considering transitioning a loved one to a senior community, there was one common thread: The senior was doing OK at home.
"We don't strive to be just OK. We want our residents to be thriving in all areas of life, not just by helping them manage medications and physical health," she shared.
The Corporate Life Enrichment Director plays a large role in ensuring residents feel successful and needed. She frequently hears new residents' family members saying that they didn't even realize they'd lost their relationships with their loved ones. Now that the seniors' personal needs are taken care of in a senior living community, these relatives are now back to being the daughters, sons and spouses instead of taking on the role of caregivers.
Each month, Edgewood communities provide residents and their families with a calendar of upcoming events. This way, loved ones know what to plan for and can choose to visit while taking part in a community-planned event.